First class air travelers who want to upgrade to private jets without the extra cost have an option in a newly launched startup.
Jumpjet founder Will Ashcroft describes his company as a "private travel club," with price points matching that of first class travel on large airlines.
On top of comfort, according to Ashcroft, the great advantages private jets offer are convenience and time savings. Flying in a private jet offers an average time savings of three hours, he said.
That's because there's no TSA security process. Jumpjet flies mostly out of small airports, so clients often can be delivered by car directly to their plane. It is recommended they arrive a mere 15 minutes before takeoff.
Membership packages cover different distances and numbers of flights. For $2,350 per month, Upper Club members get 10 round trips per year on flights as long as three hours 15 minutes (from New York City, that's about as far as Aspen).
Upper Club Plus covers flights of four hours 15 minutes; ten round trips per year cost $3,995 per month. The Coast to Coast Elite package provides ten round trips across the country for $5,500 per month.
Unfortunately for frugal customers, there is no way to take a flight outside the boundaries of one's membership package. An Upper Club member will have to upgrade to Coast to Coast Elite for any flight from New York to California.
In Upper Club and Upper Club Plus, a member can bring seven guests per trip, but Coast to Coast Elite members can only bring three. Personal memberships can be "shared," so the member himself does not need to be the one to take the trip.
Businesses work with Jumpjet to create their own membership deals, based on their flying needs.
So far, Jumpjet has signed up nearly 700 customers, 90 percent of whom are individuals. The businesses that make up the remaining 10 percent vary from large corporations to accounting and law firms, Ashcroft said.
Jumpjet launched in October and expects to have planes in the air early next year. To start, it will offer service to 40 cities and charter the aircraft.
Asked about challenges facing Jumpjet, Ashcroft mentioned the "too good to be true factor." It can be hard to convince potential customers that the startup can really offer dependable service, he said.
The secret is software that creates plane itineraries based on where its passengers want to go.
The fact that reservations should be made two weeks in advance gives Jumpjet some time to figure out how to move its clients efficiently.
Ashcroft says Jumpjet has no direct competitors, but examples of similar businesses shine light on the difficulties of what it is trying to do.
DayJet provided on-demand jet travel and suspended operations in September 2008, less than a year after it went into business.
SurfAir offers "all-you-can-fly access" to members, but only in California, greatly simplifying flight planning.
If Jumpjet can get its members where they need to go efficiently and profitably, it could change the airline industry. If not, it will go the way of DayJet.
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